Immunopathology of Kikuchi–Fujimoto disease: A reappraisal using novel immunohistochemistry markers

Narittee Sukswai, Hye Ra Jung, Samir S. Amr, Siok Bian Ng, Salwa S. Sheikh, Kirill Lyapichev, Siba El Hussein, Sanam Loghavi, Rose Lou Marie C. Agbay, Roberto N. Miranda, L. Jeffrey Medeiros, Joseph D. Khoury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Aims: Kikuchi–Fujimoto disease (KFD) is a self-limited disease characterised by destruction of the lymph node parenchyma. Few studies have assessed the immunohistological features of KFD, and most employed limited antibody panels that lacked many of the novel immunohistochemistry markers currently available. Methods and results: We used immunohistochemistry to reappraise the microanatomical distribution of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), follicular helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells, B cells, follicular dendritic cell (FDC) meshworks, and histiocytes in lymph nodes involved by KFD. The study group consisted of 138 KFD patients (89 women; 64.5%) with a median age of 27 years (range, 3–50 years). Cervical lymph nodes were most commonly involved, in 108 (78.3%) patients. The numbers of pDCs were increased, predominantly around and within apoptotic areas and the paracortex, and tapering off within xanthomatous areas. pDCs formed sizeable tight clusters, most notably around apoptotic/necrotic areas. T cells consisted mostly of CD8-positive cells with predominant expression of T-cell receptor-β. There were notable increases in the numbers of CD8-positive T cells within lymphoid follicles, and their numbers correlated with alterations in FDC meshworks (P < 0.001). The number of follicular helper T cells was decreased within distorted FDC meshworks. CD21 highlighted frequent distortion of FDC meshworks, even in lymph node tissue that was distant from apoptotic/necrotic areas. Distorted FDC meshworks spanned all morphological patterns, and FDC meshwork characteristics (intact; distorted; remnant/nearly absent) correlated with morphological patterns (P < 0.01). Conclusions: The immunohistological landscape of KFD is complex and characterised by increased numbers of pDCs that frequently cluster around apoptotic/necrotic foci, increased numbers of cytotoxic T cells, and substantial distortion of FDC meshworks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-274
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Kikuchi–Fujimoto disease
  • follicular dendritic cell
  • histiocytic necrotising lymphadenitis
  • lymph node
  • lymphadenopathy
  • plasmacytoid dendritic cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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